Heat’s Miller hopes to contribute
by Jeff Zillgitt, USA TODAY Sports
MIAMI – Mike Miller isn’t changing anything in his preparations.
But he would like to change something in his playing time.
Miller has played in just five of the Miami Heat’s nine playoff games for a total of 8.8 minutes per game – nearly half the minutes per game he played for the Heat in all 23 games of last season’s championship run. The Heat will take on the Indiana Pacers in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals today (8:30 p.m. ET, TNT).
“It’s hard because when you’re trying to stay ready, it’s all mental,” the Heat guard-forward told USA TODAY Sports.
Still, there is something to be said for being on a team hoping to win a second consecutive NBA championship.
“It’s a lot bigger than yourself,” Miller said. “A lot of guys, including myself, put a lot of hard work into this, and you don’t want to be the reason something (wrong) comes up. You need to focus on being a professional and being ready and try to help the team win.”
Heat coach Erik Spoelstra is empathetic but he also knows what kind of players he’s dealing with. Miami is very deliberate in whom they sign, knowing there’s not going to be many public complaints about playing time from players used to bigger minutes.
“You try to emphasize and remind everybody of the big picture, often, and don’t take it for granted that everybody always understands,” Spoelstra said. “I also don’t have a problem with guys getting frustrated. That’s a normal human condition during the course of a long year. Everybody on our team has sacrificed a great deal to be a part of this team. That doesn’t mean it’s easy.”
The last vivid visual of Miller goes back to Game 5 of last season’s NBA Finals when Miller destroyed with the Oklahoma City Thunder with a three-point display. He made 7-of-8 three-pointers, including 4-for-4 in the first half as the Heat won 121-106.
Those moments have been few this season. Miami’s desire to take advantage of three-point line and create space at the rim for LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh prompted management … [For more on Miami Heat guard Mike Miller hopes to contribute, click here.]